Salmon Festival: You won't get bored at the main stage gig: Ulrich

Folk-pop singer and songwriter Shari Ulrich has been making music for more than four decades, but this may be her most ambitious year yet. She is releasing three albums in one year.

The Bowen Island-based artist currently performs in two groups. BTU, a folk trio, made up of Barney Bentall, Tom Taylor and Ulrich. They released their second album, Tightrope Walk, in February.

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Ulrich is a multi-instrumentalist, playing violin, mandolin, guitar, piano and the dulcimer. Her daughter Julia Graff is also in the music business. Graff, whose father is musician David Graff, started studying violin and piano at age four, and at age 12, started joining her mother on stage. Now, she is a Vancouver-based, freelance audio engineer.

“On my last solo album, my daughter engineered and produced and she will be doing it again on my next album,” Ulrich said. “On the album released in February with Barney Bentall and Tom Taylor, she co-engineered it.”

The mother and daughter musical team will perform together at the 71st annual Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1, hitting the main stage at 1 p.m. With a song catalogue stretching more than 40 years, Ulrich will play a mix of old, new and maybe some unreleased, new music.

“I don’t think people get bored at one of my concerts,” Ulrich laughed. “I mix it up. 

“I’ll probably be doing a couple of ballads and a couple of more upbeat stuff.” 

She is also part of The High Bar Gang, which is made up of six other musicians: Dave Barber, Kirby Barber, Rob Becker, Barney Bentall, Wendy Bird and Colin Nairne. They will release their second album in July.

Then, later this year, Ulrich will release her eighth solo album, which she is currently working on.

“I have never been busier than I am now and I am very lucky for that,” Ulrich said. “I love what I do.”

Ulrich is known as a Canadian musician and songwriter, but she was born in California. She moved to Canada shortly after the Kent State shooting in 1970, when 28 National Guards opened fire on anti-war student protesters  at the Ohio University. 

Feeling unsafe in her home country, she moved to Vancouver. In 1973, she formed the Pied Pumkin String Ensemble with two other musicians. She then joined Valdy and The Hometown Band a couple of years later and in 1982, she won her first Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. She is also associated with folk music group UHF, made up of Chilliwack lead singer Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes.

“There is lots of variety in what I do, which keeps it so interesting and engaging,” Ulrich said about being a musician. “That’s how I am able to release three albums in one year.”

Ulrich will also be reuniting with Valdy and The Hometown Band for its 40th anniversary, with a number of summer performances. 

Looking at her touring schedule on her website,, one would wonder how she finds the time to write new music. Besides performing for the many bands she’s associated with, as well as her own solo concerts, she also has shows scheduled with Séan McCann of Great Big Sea and Jim Byrnes.

“I don’t find it tiring at all,” Ulrich said. “I enjoy it all so much, so it doesn’t take a toll on me.”

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